Ali Holding S.r.l., one of the largest and most diversified global leaders in the foodservice equipment industry, and Welbilt, Inc. announced last month that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Ali Group will acquire Welbilt in an all-cash transaction for $24.00 per share, or approximately $3.5 billion in aggregate equity value and $4.8 billion in enterprise value. The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors.
“We are pleased to announce this agreement with Welbilt and look forward to combining our highly complementary brands to create a comprehensive product portfolio and enhance our global footprint,” said Filippo Berti, Ali Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We have long admired Welbilt’s heritage, breadth of products, brand strength and management team, and together we will have an expanded range of innovative products. The transaction marks a significant milestone in Ali Group’s history and will position us to better serve our customers and capitalize on attractive growth opportunities. We are excited to welcome Welbilt and its employees to the Ali Group family as we strengthen our global presence and continue to build on our culture of quality and innovation.”
“We are excited to reach this agreement with Ali Group, which delivers outstanding value to Welbilt shareholders, provides new opportunities for Welbilt employees and enables Welbilt to benefit from the expertise and resources of Ali Group,” said Bill Johnson, Welbilt’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This transaction provides a compelling and certain cash value to Welbilt shareholders at an attractive premium and will create a global leader in the foodservice equipment and solutions industry with a full range of connectable foodservice solutions for our customers. I want to thank each of our employees for their hard work and dedication to the success of Welbilt, which has positioned us to reach this agreement today. On behalf of the Welbilt Board and management team, we are excited to work closely with Filippo and the Ali Group team as we bring our companies together.”
In addition, Carl C. Icahn (and affiliates), who owns 7.7% of Welbilt stock, has entered into a support agreement in favor of the transaction. The transaction, which is not conditioned on financing, is expected to close in early 2022, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the approval of Welbilt shareholders. Upon completion of the transaction, Welbilt’s shares will no longer trade on The New York Stock Exchange.
Welbilt also confirmed that it has terminated the previous merger agreement entered into with The Middleby Corporation on April 20, 2021. Per the terms of the Middleby merger agreement, Ali Group has paid Middleby a $110 million termination fee on Welbilt’s behalf as agreed to in the Ali Group merger agreement. In light of the termination of the agreement with Middleby, Welbilt is cancelled its, special stockholder meeting to approve the Middleby transaction. Welbilt expects to announce a special stockholder meeting to approve the Ali Group transaction at a later date.
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC has acted as Ali Group’s exclusive financial advisor, with financing provided by Goldman Sachs International and Mediobanca, and Alston & Bird is acting as legal advisor. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is serving as exclusive financial advisor to Welbilt, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is serving as legal counsel.
Founded in 1963, Ali Group is an Italian corporation with headquarters located in Milan, Italy and North American operations based in Chicago, Illinois. Through its subsidiaries, the company designs, manufactures, markets and services a broad line of commercial and institutional foodservice equipment used by major restaurant and hotel chains, independent restaurants, hospitals, schools, airports, correctional institutions and canteens.
Ali Group and its 80 global brands employ approximately 10,000 people in 30 countries and, in terms of sales, is one of the world’s largest and most diversified global leaders in the foodservice equipment industry. It has 58 manufacturing facilities in 15 countries and sales and service subsidiaries throughout Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Welbilt, Inc. provides the world’s top chefs, premier chain operators and growing independents with industry-leading equipment and solutions. Our innovative products and solutions are powered by our deep knowledge, operator insights, and culinary expertise. Our portfolio of award-winning product brands includes Cleveland™, Convotherm®, Crem®, Delfield®, Frymaster®, Garland®, Kolpak®, Lincoln®, Manitowoc® Ice, Merco®, Merrychef® and Multiplex®. These product brands are supported by three service brands: KitchenCare®, our aftermarket parts and service brand, FitKitchen® fully-integrated kitchen systems brand, and KitchenConnect®, our cloud-based digital platform brand. Headquartered in the Tampa Bay region of Florida and operating 19 manufacturing facilities throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, we sell through a global network of over 5,000 distributors, dealers, buying groups and manufacturers’ representatives in over 100 countries. Welbilt has approximately 4,500 employees and generated sales of $1.2 billion in 2020.